25 July 2008

Tabloids hit reality

On June 4, I commentated about the US network news' lack of Tiananmen protest retrospective coverage - largely in part from Barack Obama's victory in the US Democratic Party primaries for the 2008 election.

However, I just came upon this BBC News article today that reports on the Beijing News tabloid getting banned from mainland Chinese newsstands after it dared shed light on Democracy by posting a photo from the 1989 Tiananmen protests. So apparantly the free-speech-granted ABC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and NBC didn't say anything about the massacre, but the Communist-censored Beijing News could?! How ironic...in a real world the exact opposite would've happened...apparantly the same darn thing happened to the state-run CCTV too

Back home in the red, white, and blue, during the dog days of summer with about 30-35 days left until school resumes, I've been dividing my days between studying, slacking, the Internet, and the Idiot Box. During the daytime, the local channels show all sorts of "Tabloid talk shows", such as Jerry Springer and Maury. Those types of programs are for me just guilty pleasure but not really my regular taste...they ain't "must see TV" compared to quality, actually "entertaining" stuff like CSI, The Office, or The Simpsons.

On Thursday, local Fox station KTVU re-ran an old Maury episode from May 2008, titled "You're 14 and Having a Baby, Your Wild Ways End Today!" - pretty much all Maury episode titles read like a New York Post or National Enquirer headline (even his occaasional "clean" episode like his "Most Talented Kids" shows...with all the exclamation and question marks) As you might've predicted or known, that episode was among his countless "wild teens" episodes that feature teen girls who engage in sexually devious behavior. One girl featured had a baby at age 11 and repeated the 6th grade twice, and another girl was a sex & drug addict who failed 8th grade twice! Luckily, Maury Povich at least knows how to be morally correct, as he talks to the girls in a serious, concerned tone and invites motivational speakers/counselor type people like D. West, Raphael B. Johnson, and Harvey Walden to fix 'em up. After show, the girls go to "rehabilitation" places like an AIDS treatment facility (for the third-time 6th grade student) or even the Monmouth County Correctional Facility (for the others).

Later that day, I tuned to local PBS station KQED to watch The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. It was the first time in a while I actually saw Lehrer host his own show; in many previous times I watched Newshour other substitute hosts like Ray Suarez or Gwen Ifill. Thursday's edition had a story about a reform school district down in New Orleans that serviced "overage" students...yep the same type of students I saw on Maury earlier that day. The story featured...a 19-year old woman who failed 12th grade twice (mostly due to failing the Science section of Louisiana's high school exit exam...here in California we take only English & Math in our exit exam). If her situation isn't bad enough, wait till you hear in that story about a 16-year-old boy who failed eighth grade twice; the reporter also asserted the existence of overage sixth- and seventh-grade students.

Whether in Communist China or Free-Speech America, "edgy" journalism like tabloids can ocassionally be eye-opener despite being general eye candy. It really depends on what the tabloid is covering, usually smearing public figures such as celebrities or politicians. But sometimes they're willing to cover where the MSM simply is too cowardly to go.

19 July 2008

Back from vacation

My first blog in about 15 days huh?

Anyway, from the 11th to late 17th, I was out on vacation in a bus tour to the Rockies, in case you couldn't find me online (AIM, Facebook, Myspace, wherever). The tour visited Salt Lake City, Yellowstone Naional Park, Grand Teton NP, Mount Rushmore Natl Monument, and Devil's Tour Natl Monument, among other places. It was a great six-and-a-half days to escape to rural USA and experience the good earth. The bus driver also provided great entertainment as he sang good songs while on the road...my mom said he has potential to be on NBC's America's Got Talent!!

It was an extremely valuable opportunity to be able to visit Yellowstone, which my parents visited back in the late '80s, with all the hot springs, geysers, forests, and wildlife. I was there Sunday and Monday, staying in a small cabin room in Canyon Village without a television or land-line phone (I'm not kidding). A majority of the other places I stayed overnight were small towns in the "middle of nowhere" America if I wasn't in SLC.

For me it was hard to believe that there actually were Chinese-run Chinese restaurants in Idaho and Wyoming - possibly the chinese population there is due to the Gold Rush and the use of Chinese immigrant workers back in the 19th century to construct the Western railroads. The food there was at least competently made.

If you (at least if you live where I live) want to know what I saw for the majority of my vacation think about the eastern San Jose foothills and imagine if they replaced everything around you.